Out and About on a Tuesday

Just to be clear about our Progressives, a reminder from Instapundit:

Lefties are a minority that relies on punishing speakers to ensure that the majority doesn’t realize just how big a majority it is. That’s why they hate free speech, and especially anonymous free speech. It’s why many campus groups demand that universities block Yik Yak.

Remember: They’re not well-meaning people who are just a bit overzealous. They’re horrible, nasty, awful people who want everyone who disagrees with them to be silenced and afraid. Keep this in mind, and respond with the appropriate level of respect and politesse.

The other day on Facebook I saw a picture I’ve seen before – a teacher before a blackboard, and the comment on it is about why Finnish kids do so much better than American kids. The answer, per the picture, is that Finnish teachers are paid as well as doctors and there is no mandatory testing. I did a quite check and found that Finnish doctors actually make quite a bit more than Finnish teachers and, indeed, American teachers make quite a bit more than Finnish teachers (and, it seem, American teachers make more than at least some Finnish doctors). As an example of Progressive lies this is pretty mundane stuff – just make things up with make out that allegedly socialist, foreign nations do it better than we and then demand the United States become socialist. But that is not primarily what struck me – what got to me was the condemnation of testing. If we don’t test, how in the heck are we to know if the kids are learning anything? And if the tests aren’t standardized, then how will we know how this year’s class is doing in relation to last year’s? I tried to remember back when testing became the wrong thing to do – and I seem to recall it happening right around the time it was noticed that American kids do dismally bad on tests. That is public education in a nutshell: if it ain’t working, change the standards so that you can pretend it is.

Seems that recently reviewed e mails show that (a) the State Department knew full well that Hillary was using a private server; (b) Hillary’s aide Huma also knew, and pushed back against a State request to set up an official e mail account for Hillary. Ask yourself: why would a government official not want to use official channels? If you can think of an honest reason for doing so, I’m all ears.

In related news, Hillary now says that no one should be too big to jail.

China put out some economic numbers which are allegedly what everyone expected, so Asian markets are up and Dow futures are positive. Whistling past the graveyard appears to be a requirement for being an investor…

The Progs are all in a snit over the Oscars. Let me just put this on my list of things to care about…number 12,549…

The Establishment hates Ted Cruz so much they may start backing Donald Trump. If this gets widely known, it’ll help Cruz.

A Trump/Kasich ticket is suggested. I don’t know what to even think about that…

So, How’s That Whole Economy Thing Working Out?

I think we’ve all wondered just how long an economy built on fake money and debt can keep going – we may be about to find out.

Forget about the stock market slide for a bit – at any rate, it might shoot up 500 points tomorrow on a rumor that the Chinese central bank is going to print up 67 trillion-zillion Yuan. But there are some things which make you wonder about how things are going:

Walmart is going to close 269 stores. Of course, they also plan to open some stores – but it will be a net reduction in Walmart locations in 2016.

Conveniently after the market closed, the Fed estimated 4th quarter 2015 growth at a mere 0.6%.

Empire State manufacturing drops to a low not seen since 2009.

GM/Ford credit risk is pretty high.

Corporate earnings are not exactly what you’d like them to be.

Sports Authority decided they’d rather not pay their debts right now. The energy isn’t right, I guess…

And, a house which has sat empty in San Francisco since 2000 and has holes in the roof and fire damage is listed for $600,000.00.

If all of this – and there is plenty more out there – doesn’t give you a whiff of 2008, then I don’t know what will.

To be sure, I’m ready for some magical trick of debt and fake money to pull us through at least until the day after Election Day. The Powers That Be have managed to keep this ball in the air for seven years and I’m not at all certain they don’t have more in their bag of trickery (though getting unemployment down to 5% by magically removing people from the labor force appears to have gone as far as it can…to get it to 4.5% would take some really interesting “calculations”). But the fundamental problems remain:

1. We have far more debt – personal and government – than we can repay at the moment. This is because

2. We don’t make, mine and grow nearly enough to pay for our debts and current operating expenses and

3. Far too many people are out of the productive economy for the productive economy to support.

Eventually, it all goes smash. Whether it happens this year or next or in 2019 or what have you is immaterial – it will go smash unless and until we radically alter how we do business. We need to balance the budget (it could be done in under five years from any day we say, “go” on); we need to remove the taxes and regulations which prevent full exploitation of America’s vast resources; we need to make welfare far more inconvenient than working (and thus force people back into the productive economy if they are in any way capable of participating). All of these things are currently impossible – because the political class in power doesn’t want to do it. And they don’t want to do it because doing it would remove the need for, precisely, the political class in power (ie, politicians who “solve” problems and “do the business of the American people”). Will 2016 usher in a different sort of political class? Probably not – even electing someone like Ted Cruz would only be a step in the right direction…but unless someone is really willing to go to the mat (like Scott Walker did in Wisconsin) to take on the deep, structural reforms, all we’ll be doing is, at best, delaying the day of reckoning.

SOTU/Iranian Hostage Crisis Open Thread

Wonder if this will put a damper on Obama claiming success in the Iran deal during the State of the Union?

Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats Tuesday and are holding them in custody on Iran’s Farsi Island in the middle of the Persian Gulf, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

Officials said it’s unclear whether the 10 American sailors who were aboard one of the small riverine boats had strayed into Iranian territorial waters before they were captured.

The officials said the Americans were on a training mission around noon ET when their boat experienced mechanical difficulty and drifted into Iranian-claimed waters and were seized by Iranian Coast guard.

Iran is claiming they were in Iran’s waters – naturally, our government is appearing to go along with this claim. Even if true, the proper response from a civilized power is to just warn them off, not seize them. This could, of course, just be one of those things that happen – but it could also be Iran seeing just how far they can go. They are already routinely insulting us and challenging us and seeing that Obama is willing to put up with anything rather than put his “legacy” deal with Iran in jeopardy. This just might be more in that game – and if it is, then expect some very aggressive Iranian action in the area soon…if we back down on this, Iran’s government will pretty much know for certain that Obama will not, under any circumstances, take on Iran.

Perhaps Obama should set up an empty chair for our national honor…

Why is the Left so Vicious?

David Gelernter offers up one explanation:

…Where does the asymmetry come from? American conservatives tend to be Christians or Jews. Liberals tend to be atheists or agnostics. (Yes, there are exceptions—to nearly everything, always; but that doesn’t mean we can stop thinking.) Almost all human beings need religion, as subway-riders need overhead grab bars. The religious impulse strikes conservatives and liberals alike. But conservatives usually practice the religion of their parents and ancestors; liberals have mostly shed their Judaism or Christianity, and politics fills the obvious spiritual gap. You might make football, rock music, or hard science your chosen faith. Some people do. But politics, with its underlying principles and striking public ceremonies, is the obvious religion substitute.

Hence the gross asymmetry of modern politics. For most conservatives, politics is just politics. For most liberals, politics is their faith, in default of any other; it is the basis of their moral life…

Makes sense – so, when we attack their idea of government, we are attacking what they hold to be sacred…and they will come after us heretics.

Out and About on a Thursday

So, how are your 401k’s doing lately? Read that this latest slump is because of China covertly devaluing their currency…and the word is that China plans a bit more of this. Ain’t it grand that we got our economy so tightly wrapped around China? Woohoo! Let’s have more of this – nothing like trading with nations which have no freedom…always works best…

Trump has proposed a 45% tariff on Chinese goods – probably to make him more the Populist Hero. I’ve long advocating abandoning all economic ties with China. Has nothing to do with economics, per se; has everything to do with what I wrote above. Trading with tyrants only makes things bad for everyone.

Biden laments his lost opportunity to run for President – if Bernie wins in New Hampshire, expect a late entrant in the Democrat contest.

Senator McCain acts like Senator McCain – going a bit birther on Ted Cruz. No matter what, no one can take away his heroic effort while imprisoned by communist barbarians…but outside of that, his whole career has been a mistake.

Keep in mind that CNN often allows Democrat plants in town halls. Maybe we should make it that various forms of media count as in-kind donations…sure, it would hurt us a bit, but it would utterly wreck the Democrat’s finances if they had to pay for the reporting of the MSM…

Could well be that Hillary loses the War on Women. Sure, most Millenials have only a hazy notion of what Bill was up to in the 90’s…but they are likely to be unforgiving of it because Bill acted the way Millenials have been told is very wrong.

The Prime Minister of Slovakia has decided to become the next object of leftwing hate…he’s shutting off the flow of “refugees”.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that the same Obama Administration which doesn’t trust the people with guns managed to accidentally (?) ship a hellfire missile to Cuba in 2014…

Clash of the Titans

So this Iran-Saudi Arabia thing could get interesting if not outright dangerous. This tribal battle has two deadly Muslim components; Arab/Persian and Sunni/Shia, and both countries have the power to either devastate and/or rearrange the entire Middle East. While Saudi Arabia is not the most ideal ally, they are still an ally and they believe we have completely abandoned them. Iran has already broken the “unsigned” agreement, which Obama is so proud of and apparently unwilling to enforce. Obama drew a red line in Syria that he was unwilling to enforce. Obama allowed Putin to take Crimea and invade Ukraine. And Obama is allowing the Chinese to choke off trade routes. Saudi Arabia is not the only ally to think that we have abandoned them, and they have good reason. A.B. Stoddard said it well when she stated that all the world powers know that this is Obama’s last year and they consider it to be open season. I think she’s right and that’s frightening. I think we could see some bad players making a lot of bad moves over the next year. Question is; does that bolster Trump even more? And how does Hillary handle it? More gun control? Your thoughts.

Beginning of Year Open Thread

Had a post up for half an hour – didn’t like the total flow of it. It’ll be back up later, if you saw it. Meanwhile, how about an open thread like I promised?

We’re only 24 days until we reach Gore’s proclaimed point of no return on global warming climate change. Ah, Earth – we hardly knew ye.

The Saudi’s executed a Shia cleric and some rumbles of rebellion among Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority are being heard. Just to let you know – the Shia’s in Saudi Arabia live where a huge amount of Saudi Arabia’s oil is. This could get messy.

Obama, entering his last year in office, seems determined to boost gun sales, again. Anyone check to see if he’s a major stockholder in gun firms?

Gary Kasparov wonders whither America?

Rhambo took his vacation in Cuba – probably getting a few pointers on how to maintain one-party control.